Driving involves a lot of risks, even on a clear, bright day. Imagine the kind of risks you have to deal with when driving during extreme weather conditions, like heavy rain or storm. Winters are especially difficult for drivers in the colder regions of the country. Speeding and faulty driving techniques can lead to accidents that can even be fatal at times. If you want to reach your destination safely and in one-piece, here are a few tips that you should remember when driving on icy or snow laden roads.
Keep your vehicle road ready
Breakdown of the vehicle in the middle of nowhere during severe cold days or nights is the last thing you want. If you do not want to be left freezing on the side of the road, make sure that your car is thoroughly checked and in perfect condition for a long trip during winter months. Things to check include fuel level, air pressure in tires, battery, anti-freeze levels among others. Also make sure that you carry a bag of salt, tow chains, shovel, a tool kit, ice scraper and woolens to keep you warm inside the car.
Speeding up to a certain level is okay when you drive on the highway. But in winter months when the roads are moist with snow or ice, it is best to keep the speeds to a minimum. Speeding on icy roads increases the chances of skidding, which will also increase your stopping distance significantly. It is also wise to slow down the vehicle at bends and turnings to prevent any accidents. Slowing down also reduces the need for harsh braking or sharp steering, which could lead to spinning of the vehicle and apparent collision.
Slowing down is not easy on icy roads. Also, you will have lesser control over the wheels, which is why speeding around bends or turnings could lead the vehicle to swerve completely to a side and even spin. Remember that speed limits that are considered safe during normal weather conditions can be dangerous on icy roads.
As the stopping distance of vehicles increases greatly on icy roads, it is important that you maintain a greater distance between your vehicle and other vehicles ahead of you. This will bring down the chances of a collision in case the driver ahead of you stops suddenly. Ideally, you should maintain at least 10 times the usual distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you to avoid a collision.
Watch out for isolated patches of ice or snow
It is natural for a driver to speed up when there is a smooth and clear road ahead. But in winter months, not all roads are alike. Weather patterns may cause formation of ice or snowy patches only on certain sections of the road, at random. Most drivers speeding on what they assume to be a perfectly clear road ahead are often surprised by these isolated patches of ice and snow, and fail to slow down the vehicle in time. Braking on ice or snow when driving at high speeds and a higher gear can be dangerous. The safest way to drive on ice is to go slow, without the need to apply brakes.
Dealing with Poor Visibility
Winter months can be dark and snow often reduces visibility on the road. Use dipped lights for better visibility and clean your windshield, windows and mirrors every now and then for clearer vision outside. You should also stop once in a while to clear the license plates, the wheel arches and the headlights.